Monday, February 6, 2017

Empowerment Through Song: The Neo-Black Society Gospel Choir

 The Neo-Black Society has several committees which focus on individual opportunities related to the promotion of African American culture, academic success, and community engagement. One of these committees formed the NBS Gospel Choir, which is considered the oldest continuing subgroup of the Neo-Black Society.

The NBS Gospel Choir was created in 1968 by three members of the Neo-Black Society in order to promote community outreach through song. The Neo-Black society records state that, in the 1980s, the group had over 100 active members. The choir continues to be an active part of the larger NBS organization.

NBS Gospel Choir Members from 1985, seen in 1985-86 Pine Needles yearbook.

The choir is one of several performance committees within the Neo-Black Society. Other performance committees include the Drama Troupe and Dance Troupe. These committees have worked together on numerous occasions and were required, by NBS rules, to perform at least once per semester. The NBS Choir has numerous engagements throughout the school year including performances at campus, community events, and church functions. Many of the events incorporate themes relating to political awareness and community outreach. The choir also incorporated sub-committees for political awareness in their everyday activities. They also travel to other universities around North Carolina for performances.

The NBS Choir President acts as a representative for the overall NBS organization. In the past, the Choir President was also required to review all proposed performance engagements. According to NBS records, the President was also listed as being responsible for the actions of the choir members in order to ensure that activities reflected well on the Neo-Black Society and UNC Greensboro as a whole.
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Photo of the NBS Gospel Choir, from 1989.

In 1988, the NBS Choir sought to record an album with producer David Allen and Joyful Music Productions. For the album, the choir chose previously recorded music as well as new works by composers from the Triad and Charlotte. Proceeds from the sale were set to be used for a scholarship fund, the purchase of new robes, and continuing projects. Unfortunately, it took quite a while for the group to receive the finished album which affected how the funds could be used.

Photo of the NBS Gospel Choir from 2002.

In 2001, NBS Gospel Choir lost SGA funding due to the religious nature of their performances. In order to continue to fund their activities, the choir increased their fundraising efforts and seem to have lessened their performance commitments. Their main concern for the funding at the time were travel costs as the group had several engagements outside of the Carolinas.

The NBS Gospel Choir continues to be active and serve the UNCG and Triad community in many ways. The majority of their performances encourage collaboration between other universities and NBS performance groups. The Neo-Black Society has several events throughout the year, including NBS Week in November, and activities during Black history Month in February.

This article was written by Sara Maeve Whisnant, a graduate student in the LIS program and student worker in SCUA.

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